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View Full Version : How Deus Ex Predicted the Future - (New Kotaku Article)



Lady_Of_The_Vine
5th Aug 2014, 21:51
"Warning: If you haven't played Deus Ex, but have maybe bought it in a Steam Sale as something you're absolutely going to play one day, this article will drive a twelve-car train of spoilers through that dream like you're Leonardo DiCaprio in Inception."

__


A piece of driftwood internet wisdom that sometimes floats past on gaming messageboards goes something like this: every time you mention Deus Ex, someone will reinstall it..



I believe. :cool:

Read entire article here:
http://www.kotaku.co.uk/2014/08/05/deus-ex-predicted-future

CyberP
5th Aug 2014, 22:13
"One issue that occupies more of my attention these days is the falling economic worth of human beings. Globalisation simply continues industry's search for cheap resources and cheap labour, as disruptive as it may seem in the West – and might well work its mischief long before the timeframe of Deus Ex. The more apocalyptic change is automation. The middle class is disappearing because mediocre human intellects, which previously could be effective at organising, say, a filing cabinet, simply don't 'add value' where they used to. The conspirators of a re-imagined Deus Ex would need to be more cognisant of this shift, I think."
-Sheldon Pacotti

This man...I need more of him in my life, I demand he educate me through video games once more!
It's interesting he primarily wrote Invisible War also, which nobody finds too memorable, but hey, I'm going to give the game a shot again one day, I was only in my mid-teens when I last played it.

Has anyone read his books? If so, comparable to Deus Ex's quality?

Lady_Of_The_Vine
5th Aug 2014, 22:21
...Invisible War also, which nobody finds too memorable...
With the exception of the Omar, who remain indelibly impressed on the memory! :naughty:

AdrianShephard
5th Aug 2014, 22:24
Great article. I just mentioned in another post that the accurate social commentary in DX is what is so memorable about the game. I'm hoping EM is reading this.

Pacotti is a genius. We need him to be lead writer at EM.

Lady_Of_The_Vine
5th Aug 2014, 22:30
Pacotti is a genius. We need him to be lead writer at EM.
Seconded. :thumb:

CyberP
5th Aug 2014, 22:35
Deus Ex's story is timeless, but despite all of the flaws in gameplay I still find it absolutely exceptional in this regard...plus these things can be improved so it's no problem, whereas a lot of DX's writing is untouchable because you'd need the original voice actors.

You, shepard, and the writer of the article seem to place great value in it's story over everything else. I see great value in it's simulation design, gameplay & of course the story too. I have stated before that I prioritise gameplay a ton, hey, it is why I'm a gamer to begin with, but the story (and sim design) does elevate DX to "more than just a game" status and is indeed why many still have considerable reverence for it.

In short, it's gameplay & sim design are not honoured by the press/greater audience as much as the story I believe and it's a shame. Sheldon wasn't the only genius on the team.

Lady_Of_The_Vine
5th Aug 2014, 22:53
... seem to place great value in it's story over everything else. .

You're wrong. I love everything about this game. :cool:

CyberP
5th Aug 2014, 22:55
You're wrong. I love everything about this game. :cool:

:flowers:

Just another day of worship at the relic's shrine ;)

Lady_Of_The_Vine
5th Aug 2014, 22:57
:flowers:

Graciously accepted, thank you. :D

SageSavage
5th Aug 2014, 23:09
Yup, great article and yup, Sheldon Pacotti needs to be envolved with another DX.

AdrianShephard
6th Aug 2014, 00:19
shepard

Come on man...I never get your name wrong ;). Corporal Adrian Shephard, 22 years old, Hazardous Environmental Combat Unit sent in to kill Gordon Freeman and the remaining scientists at Black Mesa. You telling me you never played Opposing Force?



You, shepard, and the writer of the article seem to place great value in it's story over everything else. I see great value in it's simulation design, gameplay & of course the story too. I have stated before that I prioritise gameplay a ton, hey, it is why I'm a gamer to begin with, but the story (and sim design) does elevate DX to "more than just a game" status and is indeed why many still have considerable reverence for it.

After I finish playing a game, the gameplay usually isn't what I mull over at night when I can't sleep or while I'm at school/work. I literally replay the game in my head, going over all the cutscenes and dialogue, looking for plot holes or exceptional moments in storytelling. This is like watching a season finale of your favorite TV show and replaying all the previous episodes in your head to see how you got to where you are. With a game like DX, connections between things in the story may not become clear during the first couple of playthroughs and require active reflection of the story. As the writer of the article put it, DX 1 is not a game where you are handheld through the narrative, being explicitly shown the interconnected framework that the devs spent years making; the writers let you figure that out yourself. The game didn't only reward exploration with ammo and XP points, it gave you deep conversations like that with Morpheus. Of course, the gameplay is what makes the game enjoyable after you know the story inside and out.

Games like Dishonored, Mass Effect 3, and Max Payne 3 are all solid gameplay-wise, but they don't make it on my list of all time favorites because the story wasn't the greatest. You know, it doesn't even have to be the story that's good, just the way the writer tells it. An example is Max Payne 1 & 2; the noir and graphic novel element really set the games apart from anything we have seen before. Both games not only are fun, but they stay in your mind for a good while (Alan Wake is another one). Remedy knows how to make these types of games which is why I'm giving Quantum Break a chance.

I make 2 exceptions to my rule about what makes a game great. The first one is for games like Hitman where there is no strong structured story line because story impedes gameplay. Those games are strictly made for gameplay (other examples are Age of Empires, etc.). My second exception is for games that are meant to be played with other people like Borderlands, COD, Gears of War, etc.

I'm not necessarily saying that for a game to be good, it needs to have a good narrative. I'm just saying usually the most memorable and critically acclaimed modern (old Mario and old Zelda don't count) games are thought of highly because of their narrative. A good story is of course not an excuse for broken or unoriginal gameplay; a better story for Thief (2014) wouldn't make me like the game. There are games like Batman which are acclaimed because the of fun gameplay, and I will admit that Arkham Asylum is on my top ten list, but brawl/fighting games aside...

You are probably sick of me talking, but I'll say one more thing on the matter. I'll replay a game with a good story because I remembered it when I wasn't doing video-game related things. A game with good gameplay will make me want to replay it when I see something that reminds me of the game. Hope that made sense.


Sheldon wasn't the only genius on the team.

Everyone on that team was genius. But Pacotti could've cut the plot short and left out all the social commentary. He went above and beyond any game writer I know to date, and he focused on telling the best story he could without half-assing and doing just enough for his paycheck.

CyberP
6th Aug 2014, 01:43
Come on man...I never get your name wrong ;). Corporal Adrian Shephard, 22 years old, Hazardous Environmental Combat Unit sent in to kill Gordon Freeman and the remaining scientists at Black Mesa. You telling me you never played Opposing Force?

Apologies.

Yes I've played Op For, it's...not bad.


After I finish playing a game, the gameplay usually isn't what I mull over at night when I can't sleep or while I'm at school/work.

Sometimes I cannot sleep because I am mulling over gameplay/general design. It's been a looong time since a game's story has provoked anything positive or weird in me. Human Revolution was the last one I believe (though that was mixed feelings all round of course).


Games like Dishonored, Mass Effect 3, and Max Payne 3 are all solid gameplay-wise, but they don't make it on my list of all time favorites because the story wasn't the greatest.

Opinions...

Dishonored is incredibly disappointing for a game that emulates, or tries to emulate classic LGS design. Mass Effect, I don't think there is a more overrated RPG series, the gameplay especially is very low-tier. Max Payne 3 I haven't played. Loved MP1 for it's combination of acceptable gameplay and excellent story/gritty style.


You know, it doesn't even have to be the story that's good, just the way the writer tells it. An example is Max Payne 1 & 2; the noir and graphic novel element really set the games apart from anything we have seen before. Both games not only are fun, but they stay in your mind for a good while (Alan Wake is another one). Remedy knows how to make these types of games which is why I'm giving Quantum Break a chance.

As said, loved MP1. MP2 I didn't think much of for being more of the same when I expected a little more from it. Alan Wake I have no love for.



I'm just saying usually the most memorable and critically acclaimed modern (old Mario and old Zelda don't count) games are thought of highly because of their narrative.

...Because the modern concept of gameplay is almost exclusively whack-a-mole. Don't get things twisted.
Besides, I give absolutely no weight to what is highly rated by the sheep herd masses, not these days anyway.


There are games like Batman which are acclaimed because the of fun gameplay, and I will admit that Arkham Asylum is on my top ten list

:thud:

This has upset me. The gameplay is poor, far too automated.

AdrianShephard
6th Aug 2014, 04:24
Yes I've played Op For, not bad. Don't tell me you play it for the story? :p

Nope. Op For is just plain fun. Another exception I suppose, though nostalgia muddles the water. Adrian Shephard gets no love for no apparent reason; even Barney Calhoun plays a big part in HL2 and Blue Shift was more of the same.



...Because the modern concept of gameplay is almost exclusively whack-a-mole. Don't get things twisted.
Besides, I give no weight to what is highly rated by the masses, not these days anyway.

Damn you. I've rewritten this reply at least 5 times because half of my brain yells gameplay and the other half yells writing. It's getting late and my ability to form coherent thoughts is fading...

Here is my honest assessment: This isn't 2000 anymore. I'm not expecting developers to reinvent the wheel when it comes to gameplay. We've seen everything games have to offer gameplay wise, it's now just a mix-and-match of which mechanics work better than others. Of course there will be various improvements to these mechanics, such as how GOW redefined the cover system, but gameplay alone doesn't cut it anymore. What sets games apart from each other nowadays is writing -- I still would dislike HR even if it did play like DX.

This is a bit tricky, though, because a game with crap gameplay, regardless of story, will be labeled crap. A game with good gameplay and mediocre story will be forgotten. A game with good gameplay and good writing will be remembered. So the way I see it, the quality of gameplay determines if a game is good or not, and the writing determines if the game is pushed from 'good' to 'great' or 'great' to 'legendary'.

Going back to your initial question/comment of why DX is remembered for its story, it could be because the gameplay elements that set DX apart at the time have all been improved upon in their own right, though no game has taken these separate improved pieces and put them whole again. Or it could simply be that the DX story has the perfect blend of mystery, conspiracy, and societal critique; sort of how 1984 is such a memorable book.

Rereading this, I'm sounding too harsh. I might have put too much emphasis on narrative over gameplay in my previous post. Obviously the ideal situation would be to have both, though there are some instances where writing just doesn't matter. As you said, I haven't encountered a game that has made me think in a while (RDR is probably the last one). I guess what I'm trying to get at is for a game to be as great as DX, it needs to have exceptional writing. Gameplay alone, no matter how good, cannot elevate a game to the same level as DX. Developers and indie programmers can mod/copy various aspects of DX, but none can top the depth and scope of the narrative. No video-game or movie I have seen that has come out in the last decade gives such an enthralling, detailed, and surprisingly accurate description of what our future might look like.



:thud:

This has upset me. The gameplay is poor, far too automated.

I disagree. Maybe you're geared toward the more immersive experience, but Arkham Asylum is fun albeit mindless fun. Perhaps it stems from the fact that it is the first superhero game that isn't overly clunky/comical. You have a fair amount more experience on the ins and outs of gameplay, but that knowledge could also be prohibiting you from enjoying the average game. Of course I wouldn't use Arkham Asylum and Deus Ex in the same sentence, unless I talking about how AA pales in comparison to DX (which it does).

CyberP
6th Aug 2014, 11:13
Nope. Op For is just plain fun. Another exception I suppose, though nostalgia muddles the water. Adrian Shephard gets no love for no apparent reason; even Barney Calhoun plays a big part in HL2 and Blue Shift was more of the same.

Here is my honest assessment: This isn't 2000 anymore. I'm not expecting developers to reinvent the wheel when it comes to gameplay. We've seen everything games have to offer gameplay wise, it's now just a mix-and-match of which mechanics work better than others.

Gameplay innovation is indeed hard these days but this is far from the end of the line.


Of course there will be various improvements to these mechanics, such as how GOW redefined the cover system,

No it didn't, it unfortunately popularised it.


but gameplay alone doesn't cut it anymore. What sets games apart from each other nowadays is writing -- .

In your opinion, certainly not in mine.


This is a bit tricky, though, because a game with crap gameplay, regardless of story, will be labeled crap.

All I see these days is games with crap gameplay being labelled good. As I said, nearly everything is equivalent to whack-a-mole.


Going back to your initial question/comment of why DX is remembered for its story, it could be because the gameplay elements that set DX apart at the time have all been improved upon in their own right, though no game has taken these separate improved pieces and put them whole again.


We are finally in agreement again.


Or it could simply be that the DX story has the perfect blend of mystery, conspiracy, and societal critique; sort of how 1984 is such a memorable book.

Yep, as I said, DX's story is timeless, it's true, but:

"it could be because the gameplay elements that set DX apart at the time have all been improved upon in their own right, though no game has taken these separate improved pieces and put them whole again."

This is why it should be remembered for it's gameplay.


Obviously the ideal situation would be to have both, though there are some instances where writing just doesn't matter. As you said, I haven't encountered a game that has made me think in a while (RDR is probably the last one).

Yeah I played RDR before DX:HR.


I guess what I'm trying to get at is for a game to be as great as DX, it needs to have exceptional writing. Gameplay alone, no matter how good, cannot elevate a game to the same level as DX. Developers and indie programmers can mod/copy various aspects of DX, but none can top the depth and scope of the narrative. No video-game or movie I have seen that has come out in the last decade gives such an enthralling, detailed, and surprisingly accurate description of what our future might look like.

Take the gameplay away and we have a non-interactive movie with a linear plotline- no reactivity based on player actions, no dialogue options.
I agree that the story is vital to elevate DX to "more than just a game" status, as I said before, but it's more the cumulative whole that matters, to get on DX's level. No use arguing over this, every piece of the puzzle needs to be there.


I disagree. Maybe you're geared toward the more immersive experience, but Arkham Asylum is fun albeit mindless fun. Perhaps it stems from the fact that it is the first superhero game that isn't overly clunky/comical. You have a fair amount more experience on the ins and outs of gameplay, but that knowledge could also be prohibiting you from enjoying the average game. Of course I wouldn't use Arkham Asylum and Deus Ex in the same sentence, unless I talking about how AA pales in comparison to DX (which it does).

I've bashed the game plenty before. I dislike AA because a good number of it's core gameplay elements are contextual or semi-automated. It's a style of gameplay that has been done long before, only this time it is simplified (of course, being modern).

AdrianShephard
6th Aug 2014, 20:12
No it didn't, it unfortunately popularised it.

Sure, it popularized the mechanic but that's because cover actually felt good in that game. I can't really elaborate much more than that, but cover in previous games like Metal Gear just didn't work like in GoW.



In your opinion, certainly not in mine.

We haven't gotten any games with truly unique/innovative gameplay in many many years, so I strongly believe writing is the defining factor in games these days, precisely because of this 'whack-a-mole' gameplay you speak of. This is a separate assertion from the "writing is what makes a game good" argument.



Take the gameplay away and we have a non-interactive movie with a linear plotline- no reactivity based on player actions, no dialogue options.
I agree that the story is vital to elevate DX to "more than just a game" status, as I said before, but it's more the cumulative whole that matters, to get on DX's level.

Right on.




All I see these days is games with crap gameplay being labelled good. As I said, nearly everything is equivalent to whack-a-mole.

I thought about this more, and I think it all comes down to the player's individual experience on the subject. When I first played DX, the story is what I was fascinated with, not the gameplay, because I didn't know how innovative DX was in the simulation department. All I knew after my first playthrough is that other games didn't 'feel' as smooth as DX. I think this is what the majority of gamers are going through; not everybody is as schooled as you on gameplay mechanics, so people can't pinpoint what exactly is making the game fun. Just like with GoW, the cover mechanic 'feels' better than other games, but if you press me on what exactly is this feeling, I wouldn't know how to explain it. This could explain why you think games like Bioshock and AA are so bad...deconstructing a game just seems natural to you as you are an experienced programmer.

CyberP
6th Aug 2014, 20:53
Sure, it popularized the mechanic but that's because cover actually felt good in that game. I can't really elaborate much more than that, but cover in previous games like Metal Gear just didn't work like in GoW.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9UaM-b3pvJk

Shralla
6th Aug 2014, 20:54
Sure, it popularized the mechanic but that's because cover actually felt good in that game. I can't really elaborate much more than that, but cover in previous games like Metal Gear just didn't work like in GoW.

It worked extremely well in Winback, which as far as I remember is the first cover-based shooter. (Whereas MGS was a stealth game).


We haven't gotten any games with truly unique/innovative gameplay in many many years

Disagree. Indie games have been sparklingly original and unique recently.

Lady_Of_The_Vine
6th Aug 2014, 21:46
Disagree. Indie games have been sparklingly original and unique recently.
Are they any good? Which ones would you recommend?

AdrianShephard
6th Aug 2014, 21:51
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9UaM-b3pvJk

Sorry, I meant Kill Switch, not Metal Gear (both are visually similar). Still, GoW felt better than that game.



Disagree. Indie games have been sparklingly original and unique recently.

Fine, I failed to recognize indie games as being innovative. Admittedly, I have little experience with them as my primary method of gaming is consoles (still play classics on PC). From what I have seen on Steam though, there haven't been any radically different games made, all of them just refine mechanics commonly found in AAA's (except for Minecraft). But again, you are right, my previous posts refer to AAA's.

Shralla
6th Aug 2014, 22:23
It's an unfortunate truth that as any given medium grows in popularity, it becomes more difficult to find the truly great parts of it as the mainstream is overtaken by cookie-cutter projects agreed upon by executives and focus groups. Thankfully the Internet has made this process significantly easier, but it's still more difficult than it should be.

As for recommendations, FTL and Hotline Miami were two of my favorites when indie gaming really exploded on the scene and were obviously fan favorites. Darkwood looks excellent though isn't finished yet, and I backed Maia on Kickstarter, which is basically sci-fi Dungeon Keeper. Despite basically being the same sort of game, there are a lot of new ideas in it. Pillars of Eternity got picked up by Paradox, so I guess that technically makes it not indie, but the idea and core of the game were independently developed.

A lot of the roguelikes (or roguelike-likes, or whatever) coming out have been pretty excellent. I like the ones that buck the trend of being 2D. Games like Tower of Guns, Eldritch, and Paranautical Activity have gone the FPS route instead and they all offer different experiences. I like the recent popularity of "walking simulators" where there is no real objective other than to be exposed to a world or story. Proteus was quite fun.

It actually came out in 2006, but Toribash (http://store.steampowered.com/app/248570/) recently got put on steam. It's a simultaneous turn-based fighting game where you manipulate the major joints on a ragdoll. It's a hugely original idea and has a massive learning curve, but it's a ton of fun when you get into it.

CyberP
6th Aug 2014, 22:28
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9UaM-b3pvJk

Interesting. Listen to that music in the Kill.Switch vid (specifically 00:45), now listen to this Deus Ex track: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cG439XUViO4

Perhaps it's a common sample.

Edit: Hmm, seems someone on the Deus Ex vid took notice also.


Sure, it popularized the mechanic but that's because cover actually felt good in that game. I can't really elaborate much more than that, but cover in previous games like Metal Gear just didn't work like in GoW.


I'm almost certain the only thing EPIC did over Kill.Switch was make smoother anims and take away the ability to manually crouch, the latter being a terrible idea.
I remember picking up Kill.Switch on a whim. didn't get far before getting irritated by it's linear whack-a-mole gameplay.

AdrianShephard
6th Aug 2014, 22:41
whack-a-mole gameplay.

You should trademark "whack-a-mole gameplay". I'm sure the original creator wouldn't mind.

CyberP
6th Aug 2014, 22:53
You should trademark "whack-a-mole gameplay". I'm sure the original creator wouldn't mind.

I cannot take credit for it.